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Balaustium mites

We have received further reports of Balaustium mites (Balaustium medicagoense) causing problems in Victoria crops. Agronomist, Chris Dunn (Landmark), has reported Balaustium mite activity in four oat paddocks near Elmore, in the Northern Country district of Victoria. All four paddocks are under-sown with clover or lucerne, however the mites have only been observed attacking the oat plants. Senior agronomist, Craig Hole (Landmark), has reported high numbers of Balaustium mites in a canola crop south of Kaniva, in the Wimmera district of Victoria. The mites have been observed attacking volunteer lupins within the paddock. Craig says up to 20 mites could be seen per lupin plant, however very few mites are attacking the canola. The crop has received two treatments of methidathion; a bare-earth spray at sowing, followed by a post emergent spray when feeding damage was first detected.

There are currently no chemicals registered for the control of Balaustium mites. In addition, Balaustium mites are tolerant to a range of insecticides and Craig says mites are still active in the paddock near Kaniva despite the application two chemical sprays. It is important to distinguish mite species before deciding on control. Balaustium mites reach about 2 mm in length, which is twice the size of other earth mite species. They also have distinct ‘pad-like’ structures on their front legs and have a rounded dark red/brown coloured body.

See PestFacts Issue No. 3 for further information about Balaustium mites.

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